Fleetwood Mac, O2 Arena | New music reviews, news & interviews
Fleetwood Mac, O2 Arena
Are the megagroup's love poems, drum solos and heartache still interesting?
We all know the backstory of the Mighty Mac, the breakups, the betrayals, the addictions and now, finally, the reunion. These days they're more like the Mellow Mac with the emotional hatchets buried, lingering hugs on stage, and tender tales of their time as struggling Seventies hippies. Few other bands, not even Abba, have mined their private lives for inspiration to the same extent. Unlike today's manufactured pop-ettes who invent relationship strife to grab column inches and make themselves more interesting (Harry Styles and Taylor Swift, I'm looking at you), heartache has always been at the core of Fleetwood Mac's music and their unique, explosive chemistry.
Rivalling the likes of fellow pensioners the Rolling Stones in the longevity stakes - 37 years and counting - Fleetwood’s Mac's performance, almost three hours long, was infinitely more emotionally charged and entertaining than that which Mick Jagger and his merry band of geriatrics managed to muster at this year’s Glastonbury. This was the first of three nights at London's O2 which features the band in its most successful incarnation with Mick Fleetwood (drums) (pictured below), John McVie (bassist), Lindsey Buckingham (guitar) and the inevitable star of the show, Stevie Nicks (vocals). Disappointingly, tonight’s crowd were deprived of the emotional reunion with former vocalist Christine McVie (ex wife of John), which is rumoured to be on the cards for later in the run.
The mammoth 23-song-set was perfectly pitched to please the 20,000 fans packing the venue, tell the Fleetwood Mac story and even showcase the odd new track. As the cross-generational crowd (including young hipsters paying homage in afghan coats and flares) shuffled expectantly in their seats, these old friends and lovers (Nicks dated Buckingham seriously and Fleetwood briefly) launched into a rousing rendition of “Second Hand News” from 1976’s bestselling album, Rumours. As someone who grew up with Stevie Nicks’s ethereal howls blasting out of my parents' car stereo, it was pure pleasure to see this gothic rock goddess perform live. I even found myself unexpectedly tearing up as the opening notes of their classic hit "Dreams" sent the crowd into a foot-stomping frenzy.
Yes, there was the odd over-indulgent guitar solo and waffle from Lindsey Buckingham about the evils of the music business and overcoming his personal demons, most of which sounded liked psychobabble. But he made up for it with a genuinely moving version of “Big Love” (from Tango in the Night, 1987), when he stood alone in the spotlight strumming a Spanish guitar. “The lyrics when I first wrote this song described who Lindsey Buckingham was at the time," he confessed. “I was running away from love. But, what once was a meditation on alienation has now become about the power of change.” Whatever it was about, the audience loved it.
Throughout the performance, Mick Fleetwood sat majestically behind his drum kit, positioned between Nicks (pictured left) and Buckingham whose friendship is finally back on track after a decade-long feud. In one particularly touching moment, the pair performed a song inspired by a love poem Nicks wrote in the duo’s pre-Mac era entitled "Without You". Only when the encore came did Mick Fleetwood take centre stage and showcase his drumming prowess with an impressively energetic solo on "Don’t Stop".
The show should really have ended there, but for some reason they decided to raise our hopes of a last minute rendition of another classic such as “Little Lies”, only to disappoint with the little known “Silver Springs” (the B-side of “Go Your Own Way”), and “Say Goodbye” from 2003’s Say You Will album, which is about Buckingham finally letting go of his love for Nicks. Just as Fleetwood Mac have allegedly moved on, so too have their fans, and by that point in the evening we’d had enough of hearing about their emotional issues. Playing out to a rapidly emptying arena can’t have been the finale they were hoping for. Fingers crossed that if the rumours about Glastonbury in 2014 are true, they use that opportunity to shut up and play a few more of the hits.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
Peculiarly packaged two-volume collection of essential Seventies Nigerian soul-rock
Scottish and English folk ballads are given the ambient drone treatment by the Earth mainman
British space-funk collective blend local and global while keeping rumps shaking
The producer and record label boss delivers a beautiful blend of influences
Yet another frustrating album from the art-punk outfit
A glimpse of what Europe's cosmopolitanism can really mean in Barcelona
From alt-pop to doom metal to Haitian party tunes, all musical life is here
Expect the unexpected on Canadian songwriter's immersive breakup album
This self-declared official 40th anniversary of punk compilation misses the mark
Game-changing US producer embraces the new with mixed results
The distinctive singer struggles to find a unique voice
Inexhaustible campaigner gets back to his eco-roots